Knee Injections: An Introduction

dr putra vatakal, orthopaedic surgeon, kuala lumpur, knee osteoarthritis, knee injection, hyaluronic acid, suntikan lutut

A great many of my patients walk (when possible) into my clinic with knee problems.

 I’m not surprised, because wherever we go -whether we sail or fly, drive or walk – our knees carry us along on our way.

Not all knee issues are the same- some people have torn a ligament, and feel wobbly when they run.Others have ripped a meniscus and their knees get ‘jammed’ or ‘locked’.

But by far the most common problem is something called knee osteoarthritis.

You probably know someone who suffers from this. Sure, they may call it a different name… ‘angin’ or ‘hong sip’ being just some of the words used to describe it.

In the next 3-4 posts we will focus on just one thing that many of my knee patients ask about:

Knee Injections. 

The word around town is that knee osteoarthritis (OA) means you have a low level of lubricative fluid or ‘oil’ or ‘minyak‘ in the knee.

If that’s true, it should be a simple matter to inject some new ‘oil’ into the knee to make it work like new again. Kind of like servicing your car every 10,000km… right?

In reality, it’s not exactly that simple.

The knee is one of the most complex joints in our body. It gives us the ability to walk, run, jump, stand straight and throw a stone or spear powerfully. Some would say the human knee is (at least partly) responsible for mankind being the dominant species on the planet today.

Complex machines have more problems than simple ones,and various things go wrong in a knee with OA.

The joint membranes become inflamed (swollen), cartilage becomes dry & cracked, the shock absorbing meniscus becomes hardened, and, yes, as a result, there IS usually less joint fluid inside your knee.

Numerous problems lead to numerous solutions, and so, a variety of injections are available – each designed to address a different problem in the knee.

And so we will look at a few types of knee injections:

1. Gels and lubricants (Viscosupplementation)

2. Healing stimulants (Growth factors & Platelet Rich Plasma)

3. Stem Cells (the future… perhaps)

4. Inflammation supression (Steroids)

While each of these injections acts differently, they have one aim : to reduce knee pain, and give you a chance to get back to the active life you want to live.

However, in most cases,the already damaged parts of the knee are still there deep inside, so the beneficial effects of a knee injection may not last forever.

If someone you love (yourself included) has knee OA, you may find yourself wondering if some kind of injection may help you, and so knowing the options available can help you make an informed decision.

Originally written on 11 July 2020 in Quill Orthopaedic Specialist Centre, TTDI, Kuala Lumpur.

NOTE: While osteoarthritis is the most common cause of knee pain in older adults, rarer (and more devastating) causes include things like infection. If you have a swollen, warm knee, and fever – or if you suspect something is amiss, do consult your friendly orthopaedic surgeon or doctor as soon as possible.